Tuesday, 14 November 2017


As a result of a comment by Helen on my last post I decided to name my recalcitrant  and unmoving kidney stone. The name I gave it was Cal. I thought it was quite a clever name and that I could get a blog post out of it. Helen immediately noticed the most obvious link for an Isle of Lewis kidney stone: Cal as in Callanish Stones. Fortunately it's only 5mm and not 5 metres. However there was also another thing in my mind. What is a common ingredient of kidney stones? Calcium. In addition Cal as a male name means 'devotion'. Given how difficult it is proving to get rid of the little chap I'm convinced that he's become devoted to me.

Fi suggeated Calculi. I didn't realise that urinary calculi are solid particles in the urinary system. Fiona is a vet so she saw a genuine meaning that I missed.

The Callanish Stones, Isle of Lewis

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Nothing Can Go Wrong

if you don't make a plan. Hmmmm.

That was, I suppose, my mistake. Not so much that I made a plan but that I expected a plan imposed by circumstances to work out. Things started to go awry when, at a day's notice, my appointment was brought forward a day to 1st November. It was a day surgery 23 hour appointment. (ie a late afternoon procedure to be kept in overnight for observation and recovery).

I left the hospital in the afternoon 149 hours and three procedures after I entered it. The kidney stone is still there and instead of a nephrostomy bag I have a bag into which my bladder empties. 

However, whilst those 149 hours may have mucked up my arrangements they have opened my eyes to many other things:
How enormously some things have changed in medicine in the last 20 years. For example, my prostatectomy in 1998 involved major invasive  surgery, 5 days in the High Dependency Unit and weeks in hospital recovering and a very great deal of pain. This week during my 149 hours several people appeared on the ward having had a prostatectomy by keyhole surgery and were discharged a day or two later.

A nurse may come on duty at 0730 and find herself at the end of her shift trying to get a patient sorted and out of severe pain and discomfort 15 hours later, having already had a full day of  dealing with patients.

If a patient becomes a major problem on a ward in the middle of the night there's no first-line defence against violence other than calming talk and hope.

If at first you don't succeed in trying to get at a patient's embedded kidney stone through damaged tissue then just calmly move on to the next option, and then the next and then the next. Then schedule a period of R and R and tissue healing until the next try in four weeks time.
I could write enough to fill a book but this is neither the time nor the place.

Suffice to say that by Saturday night I hope to be back on Lewis and in Blogland for a week or two before coming South again.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Life With a Bag

No. It's nothing to do with human co-habitation. I've done that. Been there. Got a few tee-shirts. Which is odd because I've never worn a tee-shirt in my life.

No. This is a reference to a real bag. A receptacle for holding something: in this case, liquid. In this particular case one attached to my back into which a tube from my right kidney drains.

Why am I telling you this? “Too much information.” I hear you saying. Well I’m going to tell you anyway.

This train of thought started when I was listening to a chap on the radio or television bemoaning the fact that he had been told that his operation for prostate cancer might leave him semi-bladder-incontinent and that, at worst, he might have to wear a leg-bag. He railed against everything and everyone involved as if it were someone’s fault that he had the cancer that had got him into this situation and that, even if it were not, then it was someone’s fault that he might be left incapacitated after the operation. His life would be ruined. Never would he be able to live a proper life in that situation.

I suddenly realised that I had not one iota of sympathy for the man.

Firstly he might never have the problem. Secondly if he did then the alternative would be likely to be death.  Which would you choose?

Then I though just how many billions of people there are on this earth in a worse situation.

Then I narrowed it down to the millions worse off with conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, paraplegics, people in constant pain and so on ad infinitem. There are so many people, too, who have inconvenient complications because the NHS and medical science have managed to keep them alive when otherwise they would have died.

Many of those people really do have lives changed far beyond anything they can do to help themselves.

Being wholly or partially bladder incontinent is NOT one of those things. It is an inconvenience to be overcome and overcome it can be. I know because, in 1998, I was left bladder incontinent after my prostate removal.

The surgeon said how sorry he was that I had become a statistical 1 in 20. My response was that, as the alternative to taking the risk had been death, (there was no further treatment for prostate cancer 20 years ago) I was just glad to be alive to have the problem.

I did a lot of training and eventually got rid of the bag. Now I’m not much worse off than millions of ladies who have had children and dread sneezing! No one who met me would ever know the situation.

Returning to the bag on my back, hopefully tomorrow when I have another operation I will wake up with a stent, no kidney stone and no bag on my back.

In the meantime I have walked a mile in another man’s shoes and will have a greater appreciation of what he has experienced.

I will not, though, expect him to tell me how badly life has treated him.

Friday, 27 October 2017

The National Health Service (NHS)

I wrote this a while ago.

On Friday I had my scans to see how my cancer was doing.

On Saturday I was called into the hospital because an eagle-eyed doctor had seen that my kidney stone had moved and was blocking the exit to my kidney.

On Sunday I had an ‘emergency’ procedure which was not successful (because of previous cancer operation damage).

On Monday I had a Nephrostomy.

On Tuesday I had a day of waiting.

On Wednesday morning I had an exploratory dye-scan and was discharged in the afternoon to come back another time for an operation.

That was 96 hours and four nights in hospital.

Four nights when I slept well.

96 hours when I didn’t have to think but had all the time in the world to think.

96 hours when the NHS looked after my every need.

96 hours when I observed hard-working dedicated staff at every skill level each doing their bit to provide a wonderful service.

96 hours when I had a lot of time to ponder on how darn lucky my generation has been with its free-at-point-of-delivery health service.

I do not have an extensive knowledge of the health services of other European countries and our press regularly says that the French and German services are superior to ours. They may be. We do not have a monopoly on being the best at everything.  

However one thing that my research has thrown up is that other countries which are held up as paragons to us have critics in their own countries just as we do.

I do know that in many countries I would have been dead in my teens because I had a disease that is often fatal today.  My parents could never have afforded the operation and treatment that I received.

So I, for one, have a great deal of praise for the NHS.